Whenever Adam and I make popcorn, we always make sure to eat out of separate bowls. It’s a gesture of compassion, really, as his popcorn is so sprinkled with spices I generally have a difficult time hearing whatever movie we’re watching over his sneezes. The primary perpetrator is Old Bay, that Chesapeake Bay treasure intended for crabs, maybe a nice gumbo, and nothing else.
Adam will not be persuaded, however, that Old Bay is not to adorn his popcorn alongside a generous helping of jalepeno powder, white cheddar popcorn seasoning, and extra salt. You’ve never really had a sneeze until you’ve inhaled jalepeno powder straight into your sinuses. It’s exhilarating.
All of this is to say that Old Bay sneakily makes its way into the most unsuspecting dishes in our house on a regular basis. In this particular case, I made a nice refreshing chicken salad fit for the first day of spring when suddenly a large yellow container appeared next to the bowl in which the salad sat. “No,” I said, glowering at him.
“Why not?” He retorted.
“It will take over the rest of the flavors!” I responded.
“But it’s the best flavor!” He said, aghast.
I quickly reached up for another mixing bowl, dividing the chicken salad up between the two. His red-tinted meal does not make an appearance in the pictures below, but you can rest assured our relationship lived to sneeze another day.
Almost Paleo Chicken Salad
2 large sweet potatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
Several spinach leaves
1 whole roasted rotisserie chicken
1 small red onion, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped into small slices
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp dill
3 stalks scallions, chopped
1 cup ricotta cheese
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Old Bay (for the insane among us)
- Slice sweet potatoes in large slabs (it’s best to pick the fattest, widest potatoes you can find) about 1/4 inch thick. Place them on a cookie sheet so they’re not touching and drizzle with olive oil generously. Sprinkle some salt on them and stick them into an oven preheated to 400 F. Cook for about 20 minutes and then flip them all over once. You want them to start browning and getting slightly crispy. Let them cook once flipped for another 5-10 minutes.
- Shred all the meat on the rotisserie chicken, leaving out the skin. You can use the carcass to make some lovely chicken stock or toss it, but be sure to get all the meat off the bones. Add it to a large bowl.
- Add the next five ingredients (chopped onion, celery, walnuts, dill, and scallions) to the chicken and stir together.
- In a separate bowl, combine ricotta, lemon, garlic, and mustard, Whisk until incorporated and add to the chicken. Stir well.
- Season with salt and pepper and Old Bay if you’re so inclined.
- Once sweet potatoes are done cooking, place a couple of spinach leaves across each potato slice and top with generous dollops of chicken salad. Slide the whole thing into your mouth like a savory, tart conveyor belt.
- Accompany your meal with Half Baked Harvest’s Winter Broccoli & Kale Salad for best results.
As a gesture towards the pagan spring gods (don’t worry, I’m not actually religious), I had to continue my mom’s tradition of balancing an egg on its end to signify the first day of spring. Long-debunked as an old wives tale, it gave me an excuse to eat far too many Cadbury mini eggs and made me feel a loving sense of nostalgia for old traditions.
I promise you I did not lean the egg up against anything!